|Adventures in TV news: an intern's tale
RELEASED: Aug. 11, 2005
DANVILLE, KY[Editor's note: The following is junior Hillary Eason's account of her summer internship at WHJL-TV in her hometown of Johnson City, Tenn. A regular contributor to Cento, the Centre College student newspaper, Eason will be an editor this fall.]
If anyone had ever told me I'd spend a summer lugging around 30-pound cameras in 90-degree heat for zero pay, I would probably have run screaming in the opposite direction.
So guess what I've been doing for the past couple of months. (Here's a hint: it involves AV equipment and hot weather.)
Such is life as an intern: in-depth training for a chosen field, exposure to the glamorous and the dull sides of every job, where your main pay is in experience and everyone suddenly treats you like an adult. It's enlightening and crazy and surreal. And as the many Centre students who are in programs like mine would surely agree, it can be pretty different from our classes in Danville but I, at least, wouldn't have it any other way.
On my first day at WJHL-TV in Johnson City, Tenn., my supervisor quickly ascertained that I knew nothing about television news, except how to write. So I was plunged into the bustling world of the newsroom and sent on assignment with another reporter to cover a story about layoffs in a local town. It only took the next six hours to give me an idea of the highs and lows of the news business: the frustration that comes when there are no leads, the exhilaration of writing stories on the fly, what it feels like to get kicked off a corporate property and to give someone a voice and to get to know a community. My guide, a reporter named April Owen, showed me how to shoot and how to edit when you're on the air in less than an hour. By the end of the day, I knew a little bit about everything, but what I'd really learned was how much education I needed.
And that's what my internship has been for mean education. Despite the jokes about getting coffee and filing mail, every aspect of my time at WJHL has taught me something, thanks to the wonderful and professional staff at News Channel 11. I've learned that sometimes you'll go a long way to cover a story that ends up being inconsequential. I've learned that news is as much about hauling heavy equipment and dealing with hostile sources as it is about writing the perfect sentence and reaching your audience. I've witnessed local scandals and baseball gamesonce I was accidentally left behind by a reporter. Most of all, I've gotten to know what it feels like to be entrusted with responsibility in a possible career field.
I've essentially gotten a taste of what the post-college world might be like. These may be things you can learn in a classroom, but 16 hours a week of experience hammers the point home like no professor ever could.
Am I dead-set on becoming a television journalist now? I couldn't tell you. I can tell you that I've bruised my legs with a tripod and that I've met the governor, that I love the act of finding sources, but I don't know if I can commit to a career just yet.
But regardless of my decision, having an internship has definitely made me stronger intellectually
and a little more muscular in the shoulder area, as well.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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